What Happened To Singapore Airlines Boeing 757’s?


Singapore Airlines fans may remember a time when the airline ran a small fleet of Boeing 757s. However, their time with Singapore was fleeting. The first of the four 757s arrived in 1984, and within six years they were all gone. What happened to Singapore Airlines Boeing 757’s?

Singapore Airlines 757 9V-SGN in 1987. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr.

According to Airfleets, Singapore Airlines brought four Boeing 757s which all arrived in the last quarter of 1984. 9V-SGK and 9V-SGL arrived in November, while 9V-SGM and 9V-SGN arrived in December. They all came factory fresh from Boeing.

Looking at the Singapore Airlines network on Routes Online, throughout 1985 and 1986 the airline was operating the 757 on flights to Jakarta, Bander Seri Bagawan, Kuala Lumper, Kuantan and Penang. All short-haul intra-Asia routes.

Between November 1989 and June 1990, all four of the Singapore Airlines 757s were sold to American Trans Air. ATA was an Indianapolis based low-cost carrier. Despite doing great business ferrying the US military around the world on charters, the airline filed for bankruptcy in 2008.

Southwest took over ATA’s operator’s certificate and assets, going on to become a low-cost aviation powerhouse. Preceding that, the four Boeing 757’s went to Delta Air Lines in 1996. Delta operated the aircraft for 20 years before retiring them into storage in 2016.

It was a long and adventurous life for those four planes.


A brief history of the 757

The twin-engined 757 was manufactured by Boeing between 1981 and 2004. It was designed to carry larger numbers of passengers on short to medium hauls than the Boeing 737s. Depending on the configuration, the Boeing 757 could fly between 200 and 295 passengers up to 7,590 kilometers. It was the single-aisle sibling to Boeing’s twin aisled 767.

Two variations of the 757 were built, the 757-200 which Singapore Airlines operated and the 757-300. The latter did not begin flying until 1999 and was the longest twin engine single-aisle plane ever built. Over the 24 years that the plane was manufactured, 1,050 were sold to some 54 airlines. Of the 1,050 built, 913 were the Boeing 757-200.

Boeing ceased making the jets in the latter half of 2004, citing a preference for smaller jets as the reason. Boeing shifted emphasis to the phenomenally successful 737.

United is one of the many airlines still operating the 757. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The 757 is still operated by many airlines around the world, notably American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United. As of 2018, in excess of 650 Boeing 757s were still flying for commercial and cargo airlines.

Why did Singapore have the 757s?

In the early 1980s, Singapore Airlines was looking to replace its Boeing 727s. At the time, Boeing was starting to manufacture the 757s and Airbus was making the A310-200s. Singapore Airlines, rather astutely, took some of each for a few years to try.

As a historical side note, the first A310 arrived six days after the first Boeing 757.

They went with Airbus, eventually going with the A310-300. That aircraft went on to become an iconic Singapore Airlines plane type.

Singapore Airlines elected to take the Airbus A310s over Boeing’s 757s. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Some online sleuthing indicates that passengers at the time preferred the wider body A310 and that feedback was a key reason Singapore went with Airbus. There is also the possibility that Airbus struck a deal with Singapore that made the A310 a more compelling financial proposition.

When Simple Flying asked Singapore Airlines why they didn’t keep and grow their fleet of 757s, Karl Schubert, a spokesman for Singapore Airlines said;

“Singapore Airlines has a longstanding commitment to operating a young and modern fleet of aircraft. Renewing our fleet to deliver on this commitment provides our customers with the latest cabin and aircraft technologies, as well as ensures that we are operating the most fuel-efficient aircraft available.”

That doesn’t tell us much. The Singapore Airlines 757’s were a short-lived experiment. It was an aircraft we didn’t see much of in South East Asia whether under Singapore livery or any other airlines’ brand. It was nonetheless, an interesting sidenote in the history of Singapore Airlines.